Last Friday, the Council, which represents the 28 EU Member States, reached a partial general approach on the so-called “one stop shop” mechanism (Chapters VI and VII) and principles for protecting the personal data (Chapter II) (see the press release here, which also contains links to the latest draft texts as prepared by the Latvian Presidency for the Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) Minister meetings on March, 13).

Three years ago, in January 2012, the European Commission proposed a reform of the EU’s data protection rules to make them fit for the 21st century (see here). The Commission pursued a two-fold aim, to strengthen privacy rights and boost Europe’s digital economy. The “one stop shop” mechanism was promoted as one of the major benefits for companies: essentially, under the Commission proposal companies would only have to deal with one single supervisory authority, not 28. The Council has now watered down the Commission’s ambitious proposal to important cross-border cases and replaced it with cooperation and joint-decision making between several data protection authorities concerned. Moreover, the proposed text by Council foresees that the jointly agreed decision will be taken by the data protection authority best placed to deliver the most effective protection from the perspective of the data subject, instead of the authority at the controller’s or processor’s main establishment, as the Commission had initially envisaged. In practice, this could mean that a controller or processor potentially still may have to deal with 28 different data protection authorities.

The JHA reportedly also endorsed a set of general principles of data processing, with a particular emphasis on processing of special categories of personal data. The text also includes measures for processing on the basis of consent as well as further processing for secondary purposes.

The Latvian Presidency is working hard to come to a general approach in June so as to allow the trilogues between Council, the European Parliament and the European Commission to start before the European Parliament’s summer break. Until then, Council still needs to find partial general approaches on a number of open issues, such as sanctions and the Right To Be Forgotten (RTBF).